We started KIOSK in 2005. At the time, downtown Manhattan was becoming hyper-commercial due to the beginning of the massive rent increases. The interesting, unique places filled with inspiration were quickly disappearing. We felt an urge to fill the void. We wanted a place where people could look, learn, touch, and talk about what we were showing and wax on about anything in the world.
From the start, KIOSK was thought of as a shop by some; others didn’t see it that way at all. In terms of commerce we were a mess; in terms of art, totally undefinable. Almost everyone on their first visit would say, “What is this place?” It was always just “KIOSK”: a place, an installation, a store, a happening, a whatever. We never completely defined it, we never put our names straight on it, and we viewed everyone who worked on the project as a contributor. It’s not about the one, it’s about the sum. In that sense, the project is constantly changing.
Still, at the beginning we created some parameters in order to get things done. We decided to show things from around the world, one location at a time. Our format is really simple: we go to a place; search for very basic, common, independently produced objects; bring or ship them back; present them in an exhibition format (by having one of each thing on view with its accompanying text); and sell the stuff. Easy. Every object tells a story, everything opens a conversation; look, learn, touch, and talk, and then take the thing home with you. That way, the life of the object — and in turn, KIOSK — goes on and on.
KIOSK was located at Spring and Broadway on the second floor in SoHo for its first eight years. It was a hub in the neighborhood with an amazing stairwell covered in graffiti. It was laborious, we loved it and hated it. At first we were there three days a week, then six; it annoyed people we were never open on Sunday.
Our goal has always been to stick to our artistic and moral values; to have a creative project that we believe in, that functions simultaneously as a business. Rather than applying for grants or funding, or relying on sales from commercial gallery representation, the public supports us through their purchases. What they give us is what we have to work with, it’s a direct relationship which affords us the freedom we need to do our work and facilitates the type of engagement that we want to have with the public.
Hopefully what we share encourages you to go out and meet and talk and learn and see and show. You don’t have to travel far; look up, down and around...
When you open your eyes fascination is everywhere.